ENERGY

“As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow.” – Dwight  D. Eisenhower

 

We all depend heavily on energy, whether it is to heat and cool our homes, fuel our vehicles, or power our ever growing array of electronics. Ensuring we have an adequate supply of affordable energy is important, but we should also strive to minimize the environmental cost of meeting our energy needs.

SolarWind_ENEach source of energy comes with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. For more than 100 years we have relied heavily on fossil fuels, but as energy demand has grown, so has the toll on the environment. Accessing, transporting and burning fossil fuels all come with negative impacts. These impacts include mountains being leveled to access coal, offshore and onshore oil spills, soot and mercury pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and even earthquakes.

One of the most conservative ways to reduce these impacts is by improving energy efficiency—which also happens to save consumers money. Using energy more efficiently not only results in direct savings from buying less of it, but the reduced demand also puts downward pressure on energy prices.

CRS supports a variety of efforts to improve energy efficiency, such as increasing the automobile fuel economy, common sense efficiency standards for lighting and appliances, more energy efficient building codes, and tax incentives for home improvements that reduce energy use.

We also support the current market-driven trend of replacing old coal-fired power plants with less polluting natural gas generation, and efforts to diversify our electricity supply with more wind, solar and nuclear energy.

Diversifying our energy mix with clean domestic fuel sources that cannot dry up and are virtually immune to price shocks from events beyond our borders is not only good for the environment, it is good for our economy and our national security.

Energy Subsidies

In general, CRS is not a fan of the government subsidizing mature energy industries. The oil, gas and coal industries have been the beneficiary of exclusive tax breaks for the better part of a century, despite the fact that these industries are well established and very profitable.

The issue is a bit cloudier when it comes to tax incentives for renewables and nuclear energy.

Renewables like wind and solar are less established than fossil fuels, and while they could compete in a subsidy-free energy market, long-entrenched fossil fuel subsidies currently skew the market. CRS opposes efforts to single out wind and solar tax incentives for elimination while ignoring those that benefit competing energy sources like gas, oil and coal. Doing so would tilt the playing field unfairly in favor of fossil fuels at a time when America needs a more diverse energy portfolio, not a less diverse one.

Nuclear energy is an essential, climate-friendly, part of our energy mix. It is a reliable 24/7 source of electricity that does not pollute the atmosphere with greenhouse gas emissions. However, due to the high upfront cost of building nuclear power plants, the costs of insuring against accidents, and the low cost of other energy sources, bringing more nuclear online is a real challenge.

Instead of automatically rejecting any form of federal assistance, it is more prudent to weigh the benefits and costs of increasing our nation’s nuclear capacity, determine what help would be needed, and then determine if such assistance represents a good investment in our energy future.

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